SAN DIEGO (CBS8) – News 8 was given exclusive access to the dressing room at the San Diego Civic Theatre, where the star of the musical "Wicked" transforms into the green witch before each performance.
About 45 minutes before each performance, Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, is born backstage. The green makeup goes on wet, but dries within seconds. Makeup artist Christina Tracey, who has done this more than 1,000 times, then uses a translucent powder to keep the green from rubbing off. The process takes about 20 minutes.
Actress Nicole Parker is now part of the national tour playing at the San Diego Civic Theatre, after starring in the role on Broadway in 2009. You may recognize the Emmy Award-winning actress from the sketch comedy television series MADtv.
Parker tells News 8 she sometimes prefers her green sheen, saying, "You almost get used to being green, almost to the point where I like myself better. It looks more normal to me. It's like a blank slate. I think it changes my face for the better. I love it, I think it's really pretty make-up."
Tracey tells News 8, "A lot of people confuse it with the wicked witch they know and it's nothing like that in our show. She's very pretty, she's designed to be almost the prettiest girl in Oz. It just happens that her skin is green. So she's very beautiful."
She's beautiful, and not really the bad witch she's portrayed to be in "The Wizard of Oz." We learn in "Wicked" that Elphaba is shunned and scorned just because she's different, just because she's green. Fans tell Parker all the time how much Elphaba has inspired them.
Parker tells News 8, the fans "identify with Elphaba because they suffer from a condition so they have to stay home, or they get picked on at school… it's kind of astounding how many people identify with this fictional character."
One of Parker's fondest memories is when a little girl named Rosie who had Down Syndrome greeted her at the back stage door after a show. Parker tells News 8, "She just reached up her arms and she said 'Elphaba!' and she hugged me, and then her mom said, 'We've been talking to Rosie about Elphaba and how she's different and how that's okay,' and she looked right at me... I'm going to cry again... and she said, 'I'm different and that's okay!'"
Parker says, "Yes, it's an entertaining show, but for some people it goes a lot deeper than that and I think that's what makes me proud about it."
And in case you're wondering why Elphaba is green, there is a reason, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen the show. Let's just say it's all explained in the musical "Wicked."
Wicked runs through July 15th at the San Diego Civic Theatre.
There's also a lottery for excellent seats before each performance. You have to arrive 2 1/2 hours before showtime. If your name is chosen, you can buy up to two orchestra seats for just $25 cash, per ticket.